Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sounds Green review by Marek Lubner

CF 283Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7 – Lucky Prime (CF 283)
A double bass player Pascal Niggenkemper composed an intriguing suite “Lucky Prime”, phenomenally performed by a true dream team of contemporary improvised music scene.

The phrase announced by Lesbros – “das Leben ist flexibel” (life is flexible) – perfectly corresponds with the hybrid polistylistic nature of the music itself. Freedom on the recording has rather aleatoric then free jazz character, closer here to the Pierre Boulez local indiscipline strategy or Luciano Berio various works also including for voices and orchestra, Stockhausen’s Klavierstucken conceptions presented in the pianist Eve Risser’s realization. Focusing on texture, arouses associations with musique concrète and contemporary chamber music. On the opposite shore of what we might encounter on Lucky Prime is a consonance and sophisticated popular music.

We might clearly distinguished here relationship between the pieces. Carnet plein d’histoires fulfilling the role of a prelude: “das ist die Geschichte” (this is the story), the middle section Feuertreppe, I do not know why, but this morning … and ending sortir de la colère. Main cells are linked with interludes, polymeter ​​marimba’s dia de los muertos (Els Vandeweyer), en urgence on the piano (Eve Risser) and lances die Lanze on drums (Christian Lillinger).

Music and libretto perfectly captures the pressing atmosphere of a modern life, full of transitory intentions, accumulation of impulses inclinations that can easily distort our orientation. Sharing and merging colors, languages ​​( French, German, English), polyvalent sound structures, rotary melodic lines, creates mood that is departed from the static recognition of reality, in favor of a more relativistic. Significant to the analysis of what we hear, are factors like duration, intensity, selectivity, compatibility, sound proportions spectrum. Apart from the arrangements the musical form on Lucky Prime reigns energy, thematic, textural thinking, striving for chamber coherence and building diverse multicolored course. Mileage of the compositions analogously to human insubordinate life is filled with amplitudes of emotions, spread between pianissimo to a larger volume of sound consonance or densely scattered dissonant loss of tonality and finally atonal efflorescence.

Vocalizations here are stretched in a broad intervallic twists and turns, full of dynamic and agogic contrasts, expressive modulations, naturally aroused from the narrative course in which functional dependencies are completely suspended. Lesbros finds no difficulty in this formula, her baroque syntactic and lexical abilities reminding Catherine Berberian’s mastery and subtle humor I do not know why, but this morning … In sortir de la colère emphasized by violin, double bass and Frank Gratkowski’s clarinet tonal and key accompaniment, she’s chanting: “That’s my dream, sortir de la colère”. By using pauses there is a space brought for her singing, which gradually turns into a pathetic, expressive perspicuity opera line. Emilie Lesbros’ entertaining coloratura figurations add distance to the music, neutralizing in a way the pathos of the moment, that is closer to fragility of the usual life and human decisions. The band supports her singing with a romantic, widely drop-down melody, massive texture that brings consolation and sedation.

What is important and intriguing at the same time, is that how ideal the values ​​of individual instrumentalists are presented here as well as in the solo or arranged parts: bringing the collective improvisation, usage of contrasts as a formative element, such as comparing delicate song texture with extended technique extrapolations by the violinist Frantz Loriot ke belle or as a lance die Lanze extraverted drum solo with the arranged sections. The role which Lillinger plays in that group need to be highlighted regarding his great ease and control, blurs or enhances energy of the whole band – always otherworldly precise, minimalistic or exploding lush in an interaction, that gives a remarkably modern flow to the whole album.

This music is definitely for those who love when a lots of things going on and for those who want to relax when being attacked by the accumulation of incentives dare to shout “enough!”. A perfect balance found by Pascal Niggenkemper and his band, therefore don’t get mad anymore sortir de la colère. Just listen and experience!

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

CF 288Elliott Sharp Aggregat – Quintet (CF 288)
De l’Aggregat d’Elliott Sharp, voici le Quintet – et non pas : voici l’Aggregat Quintet d’Elliott Sharp. Projet pensé par le guitariste (ici aux saxophones et clarinette basse) pour regrouper en une « unité sonique » des personnalités différentes, Aggregat fut d’abord un trio (responsable d’un… Aggregat assez peu convaincant publié l’année dernière sur Clean Feed). Aujourd’hui quintet, le titre de la nouvelle référence du projet était tout trouvé.

Ce sont Nate Wooley (trompette) et Terry L. Green (trombone) qui ont, de leurs pratiques iconoclastes, transformé Aggregat : ainsi l’introduction (Magnetar) entend-elle Sharp réussir à composer au son d’influences éclatées – n’y entend-on pas, tout à la fois, Terry Riley, Jay Jay Johnson et Sonny Rollins ? – mais empêchées aussi : récalcitrant, le discours épousera finalement l’allure d’un jazz tortueux que pertes totales de repères et encombrements subits ne cessent de faire gonfler.

Sur l’accompagnement solide (mais aussi plus discret que de coutume) de Brad Jones et Ches Smith, les souffleurs rivalisent alors d’intentions tranchées (Qubits, Historical Friction) quand ils ne font pas cause commune sur la méthode à employer (Dissolution) ou l’hommage à rendre (Blues for Butch, Laugh Out Loud (For Lol Coxhill)). Ayant effacé les traces laissées derrière lui d’un jazz vivace (au son des décharges lentes de Lacus Temporis et des surprenants atermoiements de Chrenkov Light), Aggregat disparaîtra. Il reviendra sans doute, sous une autre forme peut-être.


Jazz News review by Bruno Pfeiffer


Glide Magazine review by Doug Collette

CF 277Eric Revis/City of Asylum (CF 277)
Establishing an intense state of collective concentration with the downbeat that begins the first track, it’s simple to see how Eric Revis has remained a stalwart within The Branford Marsalis Quintet for sixteen years. With Andrew Cyrille on drums and Kris Davis on piano, the bassist makes great strides in developing his own personality with this album as the three musicians usually prefer to dive directly into the dissection of rhythm and melody; this approach makes for challenging listening to be sure, but for the listener who relishes detailed improvisation, a most rewarding experience.


All About Jazz review by Florence Wetzel

CF 269Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee: Human Encore (CF 269)
Portugal is one of the most free-jazz friendly countries on the planet, and the innovative Clean Feed label is one of the reasons why. With over two hundred releases thus far, Clean Feed has been documenting the next wave(s) of avant-free music. This includes the mighty Trespass Trio, a powerhouse group of improvisers consisting of Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen, Norwegian double bassist Per Zanussi, and Swedish drummer Raymond Strid. Clean Feed released Trespass Trio’s debut Was There to Illuminate the Night Sky (2009), their follow-up Bruder Beda (2012), and now the stellar Human Encore. The album features the trio with the eminent American saxophonist Joe McPhee, and offers highlights from the group’s residency at the 2012 Jazz ao Centro festival in Coimbra, Portugal.

All eight tunes are flat-out gorgeous, particularly the opening track, “A Desert on Fire, a Forest.” According to Küchen’s liner notes, the title refers to the horrific wars of the 1940s in both Europe and Palestine: “Those ‘fires’ have not been extinguished, on the contrary, there are more and more of them…do u feel the heat?” If not, this gut-wrenching tune will ensure that you do: McPhee’s tenor and Küchen’s baritone start off with mournful, pensive dirges that are profoundly disquieting and heartbreakingly lovely. The horns repeatedly intertwine and split off, coming back a little wilder each time. Zanussi’s bass is gentle and precise, and Strid’s skipping, rolling drumwork sounds like water on the verge of boiling. The song fades into plaintive spaciousness, and in one of those fortuitous moments of live music, a car alarm goes off and provides the perfect ending. It’s a marvelous tune, full of haunting sorrow and somber beauty.

There’s also the stunning “Xe,” which features McPhee on pocket trumpet and Küchen on bass. The tune starts off with a gorgeous bass and drum duet by Zanussi and Strid, full of shimmering spaces and colors. Zanussi really shines on this song, his sonorous plucking revealing just how much one note can say. Another gem is “Bruder Beda Ist Nicht Nehr” (Brother Bede Is No More). Bruder Beda was a relative of Küchen, a Jewish German who became a Catholic monk and was killed in Auschwitz. The tune is thirteen minutes strong, starting with a whistling, squiggling solo from McPhee on pocket trumpet, which includes more live-music serendipity in the form of a barking dog. Küchen contributes a relentless vibrating line, which incites McPhee to blast out louder and stronger. Strid creates a quicksand of rhythm that perfectly supports the others, and Zanussi’s bass is deeply buoyant, propelling the group with a fast-forward motion. As the song escalates, McPhee switches to tenor for an on-fire solo that incites vocalizations from Küchen, creating a wild and soulful explosion of deepest passion and humanity.

Human Encore is full of fiery brilliance, which is not surprising given the strength of the players involved. It’s also further proof of Clean Feed’s fine work, as well as the veritable explosion of music emanating from Portugal.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CF 269Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee – Human Encore (CF 269)
In the past years Swedish saxophonist and bandleader Martin Küchen has made quite a name for himself, with the much acclaimed band “Angles”, with his solo performances, with his more funky expansive “Exploding Customer”, with “Looper”, with “Chip Shop Music”, with “All Included”, and probably some more, but equally with the great “Trespass Trio”, a real trio with Per Zanussi on bass and Raymond Strid on drums. I write a “real trio”, because even if the compositions are mainly Küchen’s – and familiar from other albums – all three musicians contribute equally to the sound and where the music goes.

Now the band expands with nobody less than Joe McPhee, whose phenomenal powerful and tender tenor sax sound fits perfectly well with the overall sound of the trio, but his musical vision strongly matches it too. Sorry, McPhee of course also doubles on pocket trumpet – his first instrument actually before he learned to play sax – and this sound is as welcome as the tenor in the trio’s open embrace.

Like with Trio X, McPhee is comfortable with slow, bluesy music that freely improvises around set themes, as is the case here. McPhee himself adds three compositions himself to this live performance, and it is obvious that the trio delivers their best efforts in the presence of their honored guest.

Küchen’s repertoire becomes familiar, here with “Bruder Beda Ist Nicht Mehr” and “In Our Midst”, two grand compositions, yet we get new material too, with “Xe” and “A Desert On Fire, A Forest”, again inspired by the intolerance of nations (tribes?) fighting each other, with the latter referring to Palestine in 1948.

And the music? It is heartfelt, passionate, with four musicians giving their very best, getting the audience clearly on the edge of their chairs, or at least with ears wide open if there were no chairs on this memorable date in Salão, Brazil in June 2012, the music is warm, welcoming and especially fierce and more uptempo in the middle part of the album, when McPhee’s pieces are being played, but also then, the sound matches well, the emotions flare up in the heat and intensity of the playing, offering Zanussi also his solo moment and Strid the chance to energise this great quartet.

Fans of Trio X will love this album, as much as fans of Trespass trio, confirming again that great musicians can find each other blindly, as long as they share the same musical vision, which is clearly the case here.